hindi film music

Roshan at 100: The ultimate playlist, plus the story of the three lives of a single song

The legendary music composer had a golden run during the 1960s, but the foundation was set in the previous decade.

The story goes that it was Khayyam who had originally been signed on to compose the music for Barsaat Ki Raat (1960). But when R Chandra, the film’s producer and elder brother of its leading man Bharat Bhushan, insisted that the composer use the tune of the qawwali Na Toh But-Kade Ki Talab Mujhe, sung by the famed Pakistani duo of Mubarak Ali Khan and Fateh Ali Khan, Khayyam put his foot down.

He was promptly shown the door, and Roshan was brought in. As the producer had the singers’ permission, Roshan had no qualms about using the tune. The resulting song Na Toh Carvaan Ki Talaash Hai, an epic 12-min qawwali that took almost 24 hours to record, became a rage and is perhaps the first song that comes to mind when we think of great film qawwalis. The other songs of the film, especially the romantic title track Zindagi Bhar Nahin Bhoolegi, too hit their mark.

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Na Toh Carvaan Ki Talaash Ha, Barsaat Ki Ek Raat (1960).

The film’s success rescued Roshan’s flagging career and in the next few years, till his untimely death in 1967, he had a golden run with films like Aarti (1962), Dil Hi To Hai (1963), Taj Mahal (1963), Chitralekha (1964), Mamta (1966) and Bahu Begum (1967). But Roshan had already been working as an independent composer for more than a decade before Barsaat Ki Raat happened. His birth centenary is as good an occasion as any to look back at those early years.

Any list made of artistes and technicians who got their first break in films through the multi-faceted Kidar Sharma would be a formidable one. Roshanlal Nagrath made his debut as an independent music director in Sharma’s Neki Aur Badi (1949). It had two noteworthy female solos – Rajkumari’s Humein Bhane Lage and Amirbai Karnataki’s Chand Hansa Aakash Pe – but it is with his next release that Roshan scored his first major hit.

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Sun Bairi Balam, Neki Aur Badi (1949).

Bawre Nain (1950) is today remembered for the lilting Mukesh-Rajkumari duet Khayalon Mein Kisi Ke and the delectable Rajkumari solo Sun Bairi Balam. The latter got a fresh lease of life in the nineties after a memorable exchange between Dubey and composer Anil Biswas during an episode of a popular television reality show.

The first song on our list is a much underrated one from Bawre Nain. The delightful Ghir Ghir Ke, with its upbeat rhythm, tempered by a subterranean sadness, remains the least-known of what can be described as Roshan’s rain songs.

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Ghir Ghir Ke, Bawre Nain (1950).

Lata Mangeshkar marks her presence on a Roshan soundtrack with Hum Log (1951), directed by the Marxist Zia Sarhady. Bahey Ankhiyon Se Dhaar is a propitious beginning of a working relationship that would yield many a classic song down the years.

In fact, the very next year, the duo serves up a feast with Nau Bahar (1952), arguably Roshan’s best work in the ’50s. We are spoilt for choice here – the much-played Aeri Main Toh Prem Diwani, and the lesser-known but very soulful Who Paas Nahin could have both made the cut. But we’re going with the rather delicate Dekho Ji Mera Jiya.

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Dekho Ji Mera Jiya, Nau Bahar (1952).

In his early films, it was not Mohammed Rafi but Mukesh who was Roshan’s voice of choice. The singer reciprocated Roshan’s faith in him by getting him on board as music director when he decided to turn producer. Malhar (made under the banner Darling Films) is today remembered chiefly for the immensely catchy Bade Armanon Se Rakha Hai.

However, our next pick is the stunning Garjat Barsat Bheejat Ailo, with Indeewar providing the words to a traditional bandish in raag Goud-Malhar. Incidentally, Roshan would repeat this bandish in Barsaat Ki Raat (Garjat Barsat Sawan Aayo Re). Both songs are used over the opening credits.

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Garjat Barsat Bheejat Ailo, Malhar (1951).

Gven Roshan’s fondness for Mukesh, and the fact that KA Abbas’s Anhonee (1952) starred Raj Kapoor (it also had Nargis in a famous double role), it is doubly surprising that the composer opted for Talat Mahmood for Main Dil Hoon Ek Armaan Bhara. But it’s an inspired choice. (Incidentally, the song was one among the few that were written by Satyendra Athaiya, who was married to the legendary costume designer and India’s first Oscar winner Bhanu Athaiya.)

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Main Dil Hoon Ek Armaan Bhara, Anhonee (1952).

One of Roshan’s most memorable songs from the 1960s is Rahein Na Rahein Hum (Mamta, 1966). It was a reworking of another Lata Mangeshkar song Thandi Hawayein, composed by SD Burman for the film Naujawan (1951). RD Burman claims that his father was unaware of the similarities between the songs and it was Roshan who came up to him and told him about his inspiration.

This is fascinating because of various reasons: one, RD Burman himself reworked the tune for one of his famous songs (Sagar Kinare); two, SD Burman himself is said to have been inspired by a tune he had heard being played on the piano in a Juhu hotel; three, Roshan used the tune way back in 1954 in a little-known film called Chandni Chowk.

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Tera Dil Kahaan Hai, Chandni Chowk (1954).

Even after Mangeshkar arrived on the scene, Roshan never really abandoned Rajkumari Dubey. In fact, with her rendition of Kajrari Matwari Madbhari Do Ankhiyan, she holds her own in Nau Bahar, which is studded with several Mangeshkar gems. But then inexplicably, Rajkumari went off the radar. And then, in a little-known 1957 film titled Taksaal, we heard her voice again. Or so we thought. But it was not Rajkumari; the singer is Ratna Gupta, who seems to have sung only a handful of songs in films and about whom not much is known.

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Aeji Aaye Pyar Ka Zamana, Taksaal (1956).

The final song on our list has to be a Mangeshkar solo, though the thought of going for the Lata-Rafi duet Falak Milega Tujhe (Ghar Ghar Mein Diwali, 1955) is quite tempting. Through the ’50s, Mangeshkar, under Roshan’s baton, gave us a string of lesser-known gems – Yehi Bahaar Hai (Raag Rang, 1952), Dard-e-dil Tu Hi Bata De (Jashan, 1955), the quirky Yeh Surkhi Aur Yeh Shaam (Chhora Chhori, 1955), Kahaan Kho Gayi Hai (Ghar Ghar Mein Diwali, 1955) – apart from more well-known ones like Saari Saari Raat (Aji Bas Shukriya, 1958).

Our pick for the last spot is Ek Din Yeh Aansoo from Heera Moti (1959).

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Ek Din Yeh Aansoo, Heera Moti (1959).
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From catching Goan dances in Lisbon to sampling langar in Munich

A guide to the surprising Indian connect in Lisbon and Munich.

For several decades, a trip to Europe simply meant a visit to London, Paris and the Alps of Switzerland. Indians today, though, are looking beyond the tried and tested destinations and making an attempt to explore the rest of Europe as well. A more integrated global economy, moreover, has resulted in a more widespread Indian diaspora. Indeed, if you know where to look, you’ll find traces of Indian culture even in some unlikely cities. Lisbon and Munich are good cities to include in your European sojourn as they both offer compelling reasons to visit, thanks to a vibrant cultural life. Here’s a guide to everything Indian at Lisbon and Munich, when you wish to take a break from all the sight-seeing and bar crawling you’re likely to indulge in.

Lisbon

Lisbon is known as one of the most vibrant cities in Western Europe. On its streets, the ancient and the modern co-exist in effortless harmony. This shows in the fact that the patron saint day festivities every June make way for a summer that celebrates the arts with rock, jazz and fado concerts, theatre performances and art exhibitions taking place around the city. Every two years, Lisbon also hosts the largest Rock festival in the world, Rock in Rio Lisboa, that sees a staggering footfall.

The cultural life of the city has seen a revival of sorts under the current Prime Minister, Antonio Costa. Costa is of Indian origin, and like many other Indian-origin citizens prominent in Portugal’s political, business and entertainment scenes, he exemplifies Lisbon’s deep Indian connect. Starting from Vasco Da Gama’s voyage to India, Lisbon’s historic connection to Goa is well-documented. Its traces can be still be seen on the streets of both to this day.

While the Indian population in Lisbon is largely integrated with the local population, a few diaspora groups are trying to keep their cultural roots alive. Casa de Goa, formed in the ‘90s, is an association of people of Goans, Damanese and Diuese origins residing in Lisbon. Ekvat (literally meaning ‘roots’ in Konkani) is their art and culture arm that aims to preserve Goan heritage in Portugal. Through all of its almost 30-year-long existence, Ekvat has been presenting traditional Goan dance and music performances in Portugal and internationally.

Be sure to visit the Champlimaud Centre for the Unknown, hailed a masterpiece of contemporary architecture, which was designed by the critically-acclaimed Goan architect Charles Correa. If you pay attention, you can find ancient Indian influences, like cut-out windows and stand-alone pillars. The National Museum of Ancient Art also has on display a collection of intricately-crafted traditional Goan jewellery. At LOSTIn - Esplanada Bar, half of the people can be found lounging about in kurtas and Indian shawls. There’s also a mural of Bal Krishna and a traditional Rajasthani-style door to complete the desi picture. But it’s not just the cultural landmarks that reflect this connection. The integration of Goans in Lisbon is so deep that most households tend to have Goa-inspired textiles and furniture as a part of their home decor, and most families have adapted Goan curries in their cuisine. In the past two decades, the city has seen a surge in the number of non-Goan Indians as well. North Indian delicacies, for example, are readily available and can be found on Zomato, which has a presence in the city.

If you wish to avoid the crowds of the peak tourist season, you can even consider a visit to Lisbon during winter. To plan your trip, check out your travel options here.

Munich

Munich’s biggest draw remains the Oktoberfest – the world’s largest beer festival for which millions of people from around the world converge in this historic city. Apart from the flowing Oktoberfest beer, it also offers a great way to get acquainted with the Bavarian folk culture and sample their traditional foods such as Sauerkraut (red cabbage) and Weißwurst (a white sausage).

If you plan to make the most of the Oktoberfest, along with the Bavarian hospitality you also have access to the services of the Indian diaspora settled in Munich. Though the Indian community in Munich is smaller than in other major European destinations, it does offer enough of a desi connect to satisfy your needs. The ISKCON temple at Munich observes all major rituals and welcomes everyone to their Sunday feasts. It’s not unusual to find Germans, dressed in saris and dhotis, engrossed in the bhajans. The Art of Living centre offers yoga and meditation programmes and discourses on various spiritual topics. The atmosphere at the Gurdwara Sri Guru Nanak Sabha is similarly said to be peaceful and accommodating of people of all faiths. They even organise guided tours for the benefit of the non-Sikhs who are curious to learn more about the religion. Their langar is not to be missed.

There are more options that’ll help make your stay more comfortable. Some Indian grocery stores in the city stock all kinds of Indian spices and condiments. In some, like Asien Bazar, you can even bargain in Hindi! Once or twice a month, Indian film screenings do take place in the cinema halls, but the best way to catch up on developments in Indian cinema is to rent video cassettes and VCDs. Kohinoor sells a wide range of Bollywood VCDs, whereas Kumaras Asean Trades sells Tamil cassettes. The local population of Munich, and indeed most Germans too, are largely enamoured by Bollywood. Workshops on Bollywood dance are quite popular, as are Bollywood-themed events like DJ nights and dance parties.

The most attractive time to visit is during the Oktoberfest, but if you can brave the weather, Munich during Christmas is also a sight to behold. You can book your tickets here.

Thanks to the efforts of the Indian diaspora abroad, even lesser-known European destinations offer a satisfying desi connect to the proud Indian traveller. Lufthansa, which offers connectivity to Lisbon and Munich, caters to its Indian flyers’ priorities and understands how proud they are of their culture. In all its India-bound flights and flights departing from India, flyers can expect a greeting of Namaste by an all-Indian crew, Indian food, and popular Indian in-flight entertainment options, making the airline More Indian than You Think. And as the video shows, India’s culture and hospitality have been internalised by Lufthansa to the extent that they now offer a definitive Indian flying experience.

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This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Lufthansa as part of their More Indian Than You Think initiative and not by the Scroll editorial team.